On July 5, 1439, at the Council of Florence, the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches signed the Decree of Union, after the Great Schism of 1054. Elusive as unity among Christians is, the decree was strongly opposed in Constantinople. Nevertheless, the churches definition of unity, meaning, unity in faith but diverse in rites, has continued to guide ecumenical dialogue to the present.
Diversity in any, and every aspect, is richness – in demographics, culture, languages, educational and academic disciplines, occupations and even social and economic status. Homogeneity would be bland, boring and lacking creativity.
The 2012 World Choir Games which opened in Cincinnati yesterday showcase diversity at its best. Just imagine the richness of all the nationalities – from Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Europe – blending diversity into a spiritual experience.
It is humanity at its best when Iranians can sing alongside Americans, and Christians alongside Muslims and even atheists. It is our diversity, blended together for the common good, that makes us human, not our individual identities.
Tragically, we are prone to accentuate our individualities – be they nationhood, political alliances or denominational affiliations – at the expense of the common good which transcends those differences. Let us hope that the 11 days of the World Choir Games will remind us to cherish our diversity more and the creativity that comes from it.